The Gazette, Montreal, Tuesday, 21 March 1931
It has become a settled conviction that the question of the statutory observance of Armistice Day and Thanksgiving Day was settled for all time by the adoption in 1921 of legislation which fixed the two events for the Monday in the week in which 11th November shall occur. November 11 was the date in 1918 on which the World War was concluded by an armistice.
Prior to 1921, the holiday commonly called Thanksgiving Day was fixed by proclamation as a day of national thanks-giving for the harvest. Sometimes the holiday was set for a date in late October, sometimes for a date in early November. The principle reason for uniting Armistice and Thanksgiving celebrations on one day was to obviate business inconveniences through the recurrence of a statutory holiday within a very brief period of time. This "fixture" necessarily compels deviation from the calendar anniversary of the armistice, and because many people in all parts of the Dominion consider the precise date the more appropriate for the solemn event, they have continued to perpetuate November 11 as a day of thanksgiving, not for victory over the enemy, but for the armistice that ended the war, and always on that day they pay grateful and just tribute to the memory of those who made the supreme sacrifice in the war. In fact and in law, then, we have two celebrations of Armistice Day in Canada, except on the rare occasions when November 11 falls on a Monday.
It is apparently on behalf of those who regard the double celebration as something of an anomaly that Mr. A.W. Neill has introduced into the House of Commons a bill which proposes to repeal the Armistice Day Act of 1921 and to substitute therefor a law which provides that throughout Canada in each and every year the celebration of Armistice Day shall be held on November 11, and on no other day.
There could be, for a commemoration in regard to the Great War, no more fitting day than the date which the calendar marks as the anniversary of the ending of the greatest struggle that men have faced since the Ice Age nearly ended the human race altogether. The war held a medley of surpassing heroism, false hopes and tragic loss, and there in much sympathy to be felt for all whose desire it is that the people should perpetuate the memory of that heroism and that loss on the very day that recalls the beginning of a peace that was ratified later by negotiation and treaty, rather than that there should have to be some mental figuring every year to find out just on what date the public would be called to commemorate the event. This year Armistice Day and Thanksgiving Day fall on November 9. Mr. Neill's bill makes no reference to Thanksgiving day. As the bill is not a Government measure, its adoption is a matter of conjecture. Were it to be passed as drafted, the date of the Thanksgiving holiday would be left an open question. In the circumstances, it would seem a logical thing to add to the Neill bill a clause providing that whenever appointed the festival of thanksgiving for the harvest shall be proclaimed for and observed on Armistice day, the legal holiday to fall on Monday whenever November 11th falls on a Sunday. Otherwise, procedure would presumably revert to the practice that prevailed prior to 1921, when by proclamation the Government could fix the date of Thanksgiving Day a spirit wholly compatible with the sentiments that annually find expression in Armistice Day commemoration on November 11.